When the 1908 Franco-British exhibition was built on the site that would eventually become known as White City (due to the many pearl white buildings on the exhibition site), two stations were built on the Underground to serve the exhibition. Both stations were originally meant to be open only for the duration of the exhibition but over the years they were regularly used to serve other exhibitions, shows and the athletics track nearby until eventually closed or replaced.
Click for larger detail
This detail is from a 1912 map entitled Bacon's Up to Date Map of London, showing ELECTRIC RAILWAYS, TUBES & TRAMWAYS. By examining this map you can clearly see the then Metropolitan Line (now Hammersmith & City) coming in from the south via Shepherd's Bush station (now gone as Shepherd's Bush has moved North of Uxbridge Road). Wood Lane station can clearly be seen just before the line crosses Wood Lane road.
The Central Line can be seen performing a curious loop with the Central Line's Wood Lane station at the top of the loop.
Curiously, this map probably shows the densest area of disused and abandoned Underground stations on the entire network - not only do we see both Wood Lane stations and the old Shepherd's Bush station but also Uxbridge Road can be seen on a now abandoned branch of the Metropolitan line.
For a larger detail of this map, showing the layout of the White City exhibition click here - or on the map above. The colouring was printed on the original map and the key states that red lines are "electrified railways" and yellow denotes "tram lines".
When first built, the western terminus for the Central line was planned to be Shepherd's Bush (opened July 1900), with a single track line running westwards to the line's Depot.
With the launch of the Franco-British exhibition adjacent to the depot (on the site occupied by BBC Television Centre today), the line was extended further northwest to accommodate passengers to the Exhibition.
Image taken from the roof of Television Centre Car Park
The extension took the form of a loop with platforms at the northernmost point of the loop on both sides of the track and a branch off the loop to the adjacent depot. Unfortunately when trains got longer, it wasn't possible to extend the westbound platform so a movable platform section was added which could be swung out of the way to provide access to the depot!
The Central Line was eventually extended further West and in 1917, a further two platforms were added. Trains terminating at Wood Lane would continue using the loop platforms but trains continuing down the line would use the new platforms.
Part of the White City exhibition comprised of a long raised enclosed walkway extending from Shepherd's Bush Green with several exhibition halls raised off the ground on stilts. This walk way ran directly above the loop platforms effectively enclosing them. They bridged wood lane over the building between the two raised roundel decorated columns and there was a similar looking building on the other side of the road.
The bridge had long since been demolished, but much of the exhibition halls, still raised on stilts survived until the 2003 demolition.
Part of the track, having branched off from the original loop platform section, running into the depot. Part of the now derelict raised White City Exhibition halls can be seen in the distance.
Eventually it was decided to do away with the cumbersome arrangement found at Wood Lane and White City station was built a couple of hundred yards down the line. When White City opened, Wood Lane was closed on 22nd November 1947.
Today, one platform from the original station can still be seen as you enter the tunnel just leaving White City on an eastbound train. Look to your left and you'll see the platform area (now used to store building materials) along with a closed gate and some stairs leading upwards. Effectively this platform is immediately beneath the location of the original surface building.
Up until late 2003, three other platforms remained intact in the station. Redevelopment work has meant that the remnant of the two derelict loop platforms has been removed so that new construction can occur. Over the years, the area had become exposed to the elements being decidedly overgrown, with the track lifted long ago. The other platform is still there but can now only seen by train operators as they come out of the depot.
All is not lost, even with with demolition taking place. A section of the station facade for the original station surface building has being removed and will be rebuilt at the London's Transport Museum depot and extensive work is planned at track level to straighten out some of the sharp curves in the current track layout. The red surface building survived for 95 years, 54 of those not as an active Underground Station!
The station facade, taken in January 2003, 8 months prior to demolition
The original Wood Lane station had several commercial and storage uses over the years after it closed, but it's final years were spent derelict, painted a uniform red colour overlaid by graffiti. Examining the building closely you could see the paint peeling in several places to reveal the original tiles. The logo above the bricked up doorways was quite obviously a painted out London Transport Roundel and the station's name could clearly be seen above the doors. The images on this page were taken from the roof of BBC Television Centre car park 2 years prior to its demolition.
This image shows the old Central Line Wood Lane station in relation to the new White City station.
TopographyWith this station envisaged originally as a temporary stop for the 1908 exhibition and then being brought into increasing use as the Central Line started expanding westwards, the track layout has changed considerably over the years. The images below attempt to outline what the approximate track layout and platform locations were.
Image taken 9th June 2003, shortly prior to demolition.
The red line represents the original loop added to the line in 1908, shortly after the Central Line was completed. When the line expanded further west, the loop platforms were deemed inadequate and another section (marked in purple) was added so that new platforms could be added. Trains terminating at Wood Lane would continue to use the loop but trains continuing on the new extension would use the new east and west bound platforms.
This also explains why the trains emerge on the opposite platform to the one that they left in Shepherd's Bush. The line as it is today still uses much of the tracks laid for the "temporary" station. The Eastbound line out of Shepherd's Bush was never meant to be in permanent and heavy use and was hastily constructed to bend sharply under the west bound so that it could travel mostly under land already owned by the Underground - the Central Line's depot. Indeed, this is the sharpest running line curve on the entire underground network, known as Caxton Curve, with a 200 foot radius. This also explains why trains make such a racket as soon as they leave Shepherd's Bush...
The DemolitionThe following photographs show the station building in various states of demolition. As this section is becoming quite large, with an increasing number of images being added, it will eventually be given its own separate page.
20th September 2003Partial demolition. The demolition appears to be taking place from the bottom up, with each brick being transported to the Acton depot to rebuild the facade. Notice that the remaining paintwork looks faded. This is because it's been sand blasted in order to make the demolition process easier.
13th November 2003By now, the old station site was now rapidly being cleared away. The facade has largely gone along with the station building itself. The undergrowth behind the station has been removed and a new access road has been provided presumably to allow access for construction traffic. The small roofless brick structure still standing just behind the old station building's location is actually a staircase which led down to the 1920 East platform.
Photograph: Andrew Frampton
3rd March 2004By this time, work on the building site was advanced. The entire building structure had long gone, leaving only the original floor, where the original tile mosaic could clearly be seen. A small structure behind where the original building stood still remains and the tile pattern on the walls clearly indicate that it still houses the stair case down to the underground platforms.
The cleared site, with the small structure still standing, with a stair case to platform level
The station's tiled floor was still visible and in relatively good condition, patiently awaiting destruction.
10th May 2005Slowly but surely the station disappears. By now, the entire platform area had been exposed with it's roof being removed. For the first time since it was built, direct sunlight shone on the station's walls, revealing remnants of the green tiles used as well as a partially covered London Underground rounde1. Some work had been started further back which seemed to indicate that the short break to the surface that the train makes when traveling westbound is soon to be covered.
Only a small part of the floor mosaic now remains where the floor hasn't been removed to expose the platform area beneath. The small staircase from the surface to the platform along with its roofless structure has been replaced by a concrete cylinder which may still allow access to the surface for this section when the work is completed.
The platform area, now exposed to the elements with an east bound train passing through. Also, an extreme closeup on the section of wall where a roundel can still be seen.
The view of the platform from a moving train, having looped through 4 times, experimenting with settings on my new camera!
24th April 2006Nearly a year has passed since I last investigated this area and although much work has been done on the site, the station's location is still identifiable, although now barely recognisable as a station, even an abandoned one!
The loop platforms have long since gone. Where the westbound central line used to surface briefly near where the branch for the loop platforms used to be, this has now been covered. This can clearly be seen in the picture below - the track protected by blue canopies is the branch to the depot and still remains on the surface. Just above this you can see the course the westbound line takes - this has been covered.
At the old Wood Lane station building location there is still concrete evidence of the station's existance. Where the floor hasn't been removed, the original tile pattern can still be seen. Since May 2005, a temporary partition wall of corrugated iron has been set up at platform level to protect the trains from construction work - all of the original station walls have now been removed and part of the platform area has since been covered. I suspect the remaining gap will eventually also be covered over.
19th June 2003, 3rd March 2004
10th May 2005, 25th April 2006
On ScreenThe abandoned Wood Lane station was used as a filming location an 1964 episode of the cult science fiction series Dr. Who. It was in the second episode of the Dalek Invasion Earth story, where part of the outside loop platforms (even then overgrown) and also the crossover tunnels were used in a chase sequence.
Interestingly, as part of the invasion in the story, a large UFO is portrayed hovering over London Landmarks, foreshadowing a similar scene in the more recent Independence Day.
This episode has previously been available on VHS and repeated on UK Gold, but has recently been re-mastered and restored from the original film negatives for release on DVD. The link is part of the Dr. Who Restoration Team web site, who are a group of people in the broadcasting industry who volunteer their time to restore historic and often recently re-discovered episodes of the series.
The station has also been used more recently in the 1970s as a location for another cult science fiction series. This time it's the children's programme The Tomorrow People in which the characters have a secret laboratory based in an unspecified abandoned Underground Station.
The station was situated just west of Wood Lane, almost opposite the old Central line station. Today, its location is obscured from view from the road by BBC Television Centre's car park.
The station (having been renamed White City) closed on 24th October 1959 when one of the platforms was damaged in a fire. Soon after it was demolished and little trace of it remains today to the un-trained eye, though some original features do still exist. The original ticket office is still there complete with its original trellice work, now painted blue. Other evidence includes different colours of brick work and also a line of bricked in square holes, which would have originally housed wooden beams to cantilever the platform.
The ticket office. The bricked in holes can also be clearly seen in the second picture along with varying brick colour.
Note that this part of the "underground" is actually a viaduct that's over 20 feet tall so this station would have been above ground, with wooden platforms straddling the viaduct! Note also that until quite recently this line existed as a branch of the Metropolitan line - the separate Hammersmith & City identity was added to the map in 1990.
This photograph, taken from the 13th floor of BBC Television Centre's car park shows the location of the old station. As you can see nothing now exists of the old station, whose wooden platforms would have straddled each side of the line which is on a raised viaduct at this point. The large brick building behind can be seen on the 1912 map.
The futureThis station was closed because the area simply didn't need a station there at the time. In the late 1950s, the land occupied by the soon to be built BBC Television centre was a wasteland, the remnants of the White City Exhibition having long since become derelict. With the nearby White City station on the Central Line, there simply wasn't a need for another station here.
How things have changed. Since 1990, extensive redevelopment has taken place, first by the BBC with the final extension to Television Centre, the building of the new Media Centre and now with the building of the White City shopping complex, due to open in 1997. The need for new transport links to this location is paramount and as well as a new bus station (located on top of the location of the Central Line Wood Lane station) rail links are also being extended here.
As part of this plan, a new Wood Lane station is being built on the Hammersmith & City Line which will be located on the other side Wood Lane compared to the original station because the original location is now occupied by the BBC. The station will be accessed from the northern end of the line as a modern bulding (Network House) occupies the land to the south. This would also shorten the walk to the Central Line station.
Site re-visit, December 2010Having moved away from London in 2007, it was with excitement that I re-visited the location in 2010 to photograph and document the completion of this site, especially since I'd been given the opportunity to visit a past employer's building to take pictures from angles I had in the past. Unfortunately, the pictures were lost before I made a backup. I believed I'd left the camera's memory card in the hotel I was staying in - but to my amazement I discovered the card in November 2012 in a nook of my suitcase, so here are the final pictures, taken from roughly the same locations as many of the previous pictures shown here.
I'd be the first to admit that they're not special from the photograpic point of view, given the time of day and lighting but I hope they provide closure to the previous pictures I took during the early parts of the 2000s.
Here we see a picture of the original Wood Lane station location taken from the location I had hoped to show more step-by-step porgressions before I moved away from London. Today, there's virtually no evidence of the fact that there was once a London Underground station on the corner of the street - however there is now a new station here - a bus station!
Taken in twilight, when I was visiting BBC Television Centre, this is the Westfield shopping centre, which has transformed the area and has now completely re-used the land that for 100 years still had buildings left over from the original White City exhibition. You can see more of the bus station that now occupies the land over the Central Line and the original White City station.
A slightly zoomed out version of the photograph above with the yellow arrows and writing; this now shows the modern plaza and bus station that now occupies the area that the abandonment of the original station had caused.
An aerial view of the new White City (Hammersmith & City Line and now part of the Circle Line) station. This is just north east of the original location of the original Wood Lane station on the same line.
Last Updated: November 18th 2012
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Wood Lane aerial photograph taken Wednesday 25th March 2000.
Dish, White City/Wood Lane and exhibition hall photographs taken January 28th 2001 & January 12th 2003.
Aerial view taken shortly before demolition taken June 10th 2003.
Partial demolition taken September 20th 2003.
Partial Demolition photograph showing the almost completely demolished station taken and © 2003 Andrew Frampton, 13th November 2003.
1912 Bacon's up to date Map of London borrowed with kind permission from Richard Stevens.
All material on this page is © 2001, 2003, 2012 Hywel Williams unless otherwise noted.
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